Re: BODYMOD: journal citation

Kathryn Aegis (
Wed, 29 Jul 1998 05:39:32 -0700 (PDT)

>Obviously, a person in a female-looking body who chooses to be a lesbian
>has arrived at a satisfactory accommodation to gender reassignment. But
>given the basic issue at stake here, I'd have thought that persistent
>primary sexual attraction to women is the key finding. It looks to me as
>if uterine Y-chromonsome governance of brain differentiation has indeed
>marked this person as `male', for the broad purposes of the discussion.

Well, the woman has not identified as a lesbian, and the authors have exhibited a great deal of confusion over the definition of bisexuality, as was pointed out by several readers in private mail to me this morning. By her behavior, I would agree that she may have a bisexual orientation.

Actually, the key finding is the mutability of gender within the first seven months of life, a finding that has raised the spectre of parents being put under even more pressure to put their intersexual children into surgery at a young age. The authors think that the first case was unsuccessful because the surgeons waited until 21 months, whereas in this case the surgeons acted within seven months. This conflicts with the assertions of William Riener at Johns Hopkins University, who is in the process of studying intersexual children who have been surgically altered. He has not yet published any results, but in a television interview he says that, out of the 16 c children in the study, two have already changed their gender identity upon hitting puberty. So, these two studies raise the question: when does gender identity form permanently--early in life or at puberty?


Kathryn Aegis